February 23, 2013

Plastic Challenge: Chris Reeves, Week 1

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Location:Santa Cruz, California, United States

Name: Chris Reeves

Week: 1

Personal Info:

I am the Visitor Programs Manager for the Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz, CA. Our 2013 Docent Class and I are taking the challenge again this year in order to learn about plastic pollution, starting with ourselves. I live with one roommate, who also avoids using plastic wherever possible. We are both in science careers. I give public lectures about plastic pollution in addition to including it in our volunteer trainings. It may be important to note that even after several years of this, it is still difficult to completely avoid plastic. The important thing is to keep trying.

Chris Reeves’s personal blog: http://seymourcenter.ucsc.edu/

List of plastic items REFUSED this week. (Yay!)
I’m fairly proactive about using reusable alternatives or avoiding plastic altogether, so the opportunity to refuse doesn’t come up very often. I refused a couple of plastic food take out bags.

Total items collected: 13

Total weight:

Items: Recyclable
4 restaurant sauce cups and lids.

Items: Nonrecyclable
1 cocktail straw (I was consoling a friend over drinks and didn’t think fast enough. Admittedly, my judgement may have been impaired.)
1 Smarties candy wrapper. (Also consumed over said cocktail, and in similar mental capacity)
2 breakfast burrito wrappers.
2 sandwich toothpicks (I asked for no toothpicks, but to no avail)

What items can I easily replace with plastic free or less plastic alternatives?
2 of the sauce cups were from salads ordered at a local restaurant. I asked for them to put the dressing directly on the salad, and the cook forgot both times. I found that if my request was accompanied by an explanation that I did not want the plastic cup, they were much more likely to remember.

The other 2 sauce cups came with food ordered at a different restaurant while I was visiting with a lovely lady friend. I was distracted and just forgot to ask until it was too late. …Story of my life.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic free alternative doesn’t exist?

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?
Life-long friends, cocktails, and lunch with lovely ladies are essential.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?
We switched food vendors at work, and the new breakfast burritos are wrapped in plastic wrap. It’s easy enough to plan ahead and make my own meals at work. I will probably ask the vendor about switching to paper wrappers instead.

Ordering drinks from a tap works well. It turns out that I am perfectly capable of lifting a glass to my mouth instead of using a straw. I’m out of the habit of using straws at all. I’ve found that bartenders are so used to putting straws in every drink, that they won’t remember not to, even if I have only asked minutes before. I’m sure there may be other factors at play in this circumstance as well.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?
I’m freakishly social, so I eat at restaurants fairly often. I’m purchasing several more reusable sauce cups to stash in my car, laptop case, and bike bag, so I always have one handy.

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?
Cooking at home more is the simplest way to make sure that meals don’t come with plastic. Since I am unlikely to do that soon, I will probably avoid ordering things that come with side sauces at restaurants where the staff have forgotten my order and given me the plastic cups. One sandwich place has since stopped giving me the plastic-tipped toothpicks. It seems that restaurant procedures become so ingrained, that it is often difficult for them to remember to leave out the plastic when asked. I will probably talk to the owners of both places about using reusable metal sauce cups, and avoiding putting toothpicks in the sandwiches altogether. My sandwich grip is so strong, that the toothpick provides no structural support anyway.

1 comments
Melody
Melody

Last time I noticed Erik's Deli Cafe used toothpicks without plastic in their sandwiches in case that helps.